WELCHES, Ore. (KGW/NBC) — Oregon wildlife officials started a search Thursday morning to find and put down a cougar that they believe attacked and killed a Gresham woman hiking near Mount Hood.
Diana Bober, 55, was found dead Monday off the Hunchback Trail in Welches. She was reported missing on Aug. 29.
Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife officials said they believe Bober was killed by a cougar. The medical examiner’s office said her injuries were consistent with that of a cougar attack. U.S. Fish and Wildlife will determine the animal that attacked Bober.
ODFW says the search for the cougar includes hounds trained to pick up a cougar’s scent. Wednesday’s wet conditions were not suitable for hounds because rainfall can limit the hounds’ detection skills, according to ODFW watershed manager Brian Wolfer.
Instead of searching Wednesday, authorities placed trail cameras, posted closure signs and worked to get a better understanding of the search area, ODFW said. They plan to start searching Thursday.
Wolfer said if searchers find a cougar, they will kill it, and use DNA evidence to confirm it was the cougar that killed Bober. He said their search will start in the area where Bober was attacked.
“We are going to be as humane as possible when we do that,” Wolfer said.
He said search teams will not have the means to trap the cougar in rugged terrain and bring it to a secure location to test its DNA before killing it.
Hikers who spoke with KGW were concerned. “To hear it was a cougar, and you know, a human victim, was concerning,” said Mark Siegmeister. “I am an avid hiker. I have friends that hike in this area. We just have to be more vigilant going out on the trail.”
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